To truly understand a Chinese person, you must first explore the culture and society that shaped him or her.
When you think of making a trip to China, you probably think of the amazing food, the breathtaking sights, and the unique history. However, what truly makes China so unique are the people that live there.
You’ll find that the Chinese people are what truly make this one of the greatest countries to visit in the world. But don’t worry…with a little preparation from this article, you’ll be given tips and insight you can follow to make sure you fit in and get to know the people that call China home.
These are mostly observations and ramblings from a guy who has spent considerable time trying to reconcile the differences between Western and Chinese culture. Let’s begin…
Decoding Chinese Society
The Chinese government says that the One Child Policy has restrained China’s mushrooming population (claiming that it has prevented an estimated 400 million births since it’s inception in 1980).
This is a brief history of the controversial one-child policy, which includes facts, figures and how things have changed now.
China’s Population Crisis
Articles on China’s rise typically focus on either their booming economy, energy needs, or environmental challenges. But underlying all these is a serious but underappreciated looming crisis: China’s unprecedented population changes.
China’s population has been growing at a crazy fast rate. Read more on what that means for China.
Understanding the Chinese Mind
The Chinese culture is more complicated than it seems on the surface. Here are a few key concepts that you’ll want to understand if you want to unravel the complexities of the Chinese mind.
China’s Love of Confucius
Confucius has arguably had the greatest influence on the Chinese culture and thinking we know today. For this reason, it’s important to understand who Confucius is and what kind of role he played in China’s history and development.
By understanding Confucius and his importance in Chinese history, you’ll better understand the average Chinese person’s philosophy of life.
The Cult of Face
The Chinese concept of “face” (aka 面子 or miànzi) refers to a cultural understanding of respect, honor and social standing. Actions or words that are disrespectful may cause somebody to “lose face” while gifts, awards and other respect-giving actions may “give face”.
If you’ve ever heard of the concept of “face” in China, you’ll know how important it is, whether in personal relationships or business.
The Concept of “Guanxi”
The idea of “guanxi” is considered the oil that keeps China running. Guanxi is the key to getting anything done in China—the single most important factor for success in the country. The Chinese widely believe that it trumps intelligence, knowledge, talent, ambition…and even wealth.
Here’s what you need to know to build your own guanxi in China.
In & Out Groups
If you’re from a culture that encourages smiles when greeting strangers or service people, or saying hello to strangers on the street, you may need to adjust this practice if you plan on venturing to China. The Chinese do not smile at strangers, foreign or not.
There’s a reason that Chinese people don’t tend to smile at strangers. When you fully grasp the concept of “in” and “out” groups, it will make much more sense to you.
To an expat, the Chinese culture and mindset can seem baffling. It’s very important that you learn what makes the Chinese tick and why they act like they do. In my opinion, this is essential to a successful stay in the country.
I hope that this article gave you insight on understanding the Chinese culture better and what you should do before visiting!